Travel updates: Monaco, China and the UK

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The Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo is to auction more than 10,000 pieces of furniture, art and crockery this month, as it undergoes an extensive renovation. The 150-year-old hotel is among the Riviera’s most celebrated, with a guest book that features Winston Churchill, Cary Grant and Coco Chanel and appearances in films including The Red Shoes (1948), Iron Man 2 (2010) and two James Bonds. Lots at the auction, which runs from January 25 to 30 and is being handled by Artcurial, range from a dozen cups and saucers (estimate €150-€250) to a chandelier from the hotel’s Michelin three-star restaurant (€4,000-€6,000) and a 70 sq metre Iranian carpet (€10,000-€20,000). The renovation began in October with a three-month closure; the hotel has now reopened but work will continue until September 2018. Meanwhile, in the US, another unusual auction is under way. Two private jets, which belonged to Elvis Presley and have been on display at Graceland for decades, are being sold by sealed bids through Los Angeles auction house Julien’s. They are a Convair 880, the “Lisa Marie”, and a smaller Lockheed JetStar, “Hound Dog II”; the auction ends on February 2.;


The annual Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival began last week in the northeastern city of Harbin. Ice-sculptures up to 10m high cover 21 public squares in the city, with subjects including a full-size steam train, a helter skelter, merry-go-rounds and numerous fairytale castles. The city, China’s eighth largest, first held an ice lantern festival in 1963 and the event, which continues for a month, is now the largest of its kind.


A Latvian low-cost airline has been named the world’s most punctual carrier in a new study. Just under 95 per cent of flights operated by AirBaltic in 2014 landed within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time. It was followed by Hawaiian Airlines, with 92.3 per cent, and Austrian Airlines, with 90 per cent. Iberia, in fourth place, was the best-performing major carrier. The study, carried out by UK-based aviation data company OAG, also looked at which airports suffered the fewest delays. In top position was Bristol, a small airport in southwest England, where 94.4 per cent of flights took off or landed within 15 minutes of schedule. Munich was the best performing major airport, with 89 per cent of flights on time, followed by Tokyo Haneda and Seattle. The study does not reveal the worst performers but even the top 20 tables reveal wide discrepancies. At Houston, for example, the 20th best-performing major airport, 21.2 per cent of flights were late.

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